Hong Kong Ecig Broadside

Posted 14th March 2016 by Dave Cross
Experts claiming to represent the health interests of Hong Kong residents have made claims that their studies highlight hitherto unknown dangers in electronic cigarettes. There is a war being waged against vaping and, in 1918 US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson is purported to have said, “The first casualty when war comes is truth”.

The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) “feels” that “smoking e-cigarettes could, eventually, lead young people to the cancer stick,” so says China Daily. That’s nice for them, you might say, but ‘feeling’ isn’t exactly very scientific is it?

But Antonio Kwong Cho-shing, chairman of the COSH is reportedly “worried”. “The truth is we do not know how less toxic e-cigarettes are compared to cigarettes,” he wibbles. “Some studies show they contain flavorings and preservatives and even some toxic substances. But we don’t know what they are.” It’s enough to make a person wonder what he is certain of and quite how he has managed to miss all of the detailed studies looking at the constituents of vape.

Where he has a firm belief is in that “they are targeting youngsters. The fancy packaging we used to see on cigarettes before is coming back with e-cigarettes. There are all sorts of varieties, some light up, some turn fluorescent.” Planet of the Vapes is unable to locate this photoluminescent eliquid. Sorry.

Some might say the pronouncements streaming from COSH make them sound like a stooge for the pharmaceutical industry. Their claims of normalization and the gateway effect appear identical to the nonsense spouted by Stanton Glantz. Their reliance on telephone surveys and other such unreliable forms of study does not constitute proper science. And the latest findings of a COSH-sponsored study are breath-taking in their claims.

The headline conclusion of this laughable piece of research, reported globally due to the sensationalist nature, is: “Electronic cigarettes were found to contain one million times more cancer-causing substances than outdoor air.” One million times more cancer causing than air? One million times worse than the abysmal air quality currently blighting the residents of Hong Kong? We reported on a similar nonsensical tick-box questionnaire study last year and highlighted the heavy metal-laden smog.


The unnamed ecigs they tested included ones without any indication of nicotine content, while others claiming to be nic-free transpired to contain it. What is clear here is that they went after the cheapest, nastiest products on the market in order to find the most shocking results. It results in a study that is clouded due to the lack of transparency and its dubious methodology. One that found the kind of results Kwong Cho-shing was looking for.

It enabled him to makes leaps of judgment in order to link ecigs with birth defects and the potential for sterility – something the likes of The Sun won’t bother looking at in any detail. There’s no sound evidence for such a conclusion, but then facts play little part in a pharma-funded campaign. There may be an issue linked to the plastics used in vaping products but, like exploding li-ion batteries, plastics aren’t exclusively an electronic cigarette problem (as highlighted in the documentary Plastic Planet).

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
SVC Labs